The influence of school context on school improvement policy enactment: an Australian case study

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Australia’s schooling systems, like many around the globe, are currently pursuing a ‘school improvement’ policy agenda. Schools, and school leaders, are under pressure to improve student achievement as measured through high-stakes testing, the results of which are often publicised with little contextual information attached. Research has identified the problematic nature of some potential responses to this performative policy agenda, including a narrowing of the curriculum, a focus on what is easily measurable, and a standardisation of teaching and learning approaches. This paper explores the local conditions and contexts that influence one school leader’s practices, and how those conditions have enabled this school to resist some of the more potentially problematic influences of these performative policies. Drawing upon a longitudinal case study and data including interviews and document analysis, this paper provides insights into the ways school leaders might be able to lead towards a vision of education that differs from the narrow measures currently emphasised within performative school improvement policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-632
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Leadership in Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Educational leadership
  • principalship
  • School improvement
  • Education Policy
  • Case Study

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